In yet another installment of “things the clickbait GTA journalism sphere gets wrong”, we’ll look at the sudden and massive influx of articles posted all over the internet which seek to convince players that Rockstar had just made the worst possible business decision of the decade.
If you’re a fan of GTA and like reading up on recent news, fan content, mods and more, we suggest sticking to this website since we offer constant coverage *and* have a standard of quality. However, if you also happen to be interested in various rumors floating about the internet, chances are that you occasionally take to Google to read up on the subject.
If so, you might have noticed several websites, mostly one’s guilty of previous fake and/or clickbait-y transgressions, have been mass-publishing articles amounting to “Rockstar has cancelled GTA 6 to focus on GTA 5”. Now, chances are you’ve observed said articles with a raised eyebrow and disbelief, however today we’re here to explain just why this claim is bogus.
While common sense will do mostly, it helps to have some understanding of the way the video game industry works in the AAA echelons. The assumption displayed in these articles is more or less that A) the success of GTA Online creates a business case for continued support and B) continued support of Online negates the possibility of 6 being developed concurrently.
Assumption A is correct, while B is not. Take-Two Interactive has released statements in the past indicating that they expect to keep GTA Online profitable at least (!) until 2020. This, naturally, means that they will support the game until that date with new content, seeing as it is said content that drives microtransaction sales. In fact, the recent announcement of the Bikers DLC indicates that the company is ready and willing to take popular opinion and requests.
Looking at the sales figures of GTA 5, it is abundantly clear that the game is one of the pillars on which Take-Two stands. The last time a sales figure was released, the game crossed the 65 million copies shipped mark, not counting digital sales. Microtransactions, which appear in the game as Shark Cards, have brought in half a billion in profits.
Comparing the (presumed, lacking hard data) cost to develop a DLC pack for GTA Online with the revenue generated by Shark Cards shows that these updates are insanely profitable. As long as Online retains its playerbase, which currently sits at over 8 million unique log-ins per week (an industry record), developing DLC for the game will retain its viability from a business standpoint.
So, now that we’ve established the obvious – namely that Online is profitable and will continue to get DLC – let’s look at the other claim. Will the development of Online DLC prevent Rockstar from developing GTA 6? Well, to put it bluntly, absolutely not.
Before we delve into an explanation, take some examples for comparison. Blizzard Entertainment is spinning five plates right now: World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, StarCraft 2, Overwatch and Hearthstone. Say D3 and SC2, lacking a constant stream of major content (however both a getting pretty substantial patches with frequency, containing actual content, not just tweaks and fixes) are “low maintenance plates”. World of Warcraft just got a new expansion, so did Hearthstone, and Overwatch was recently released.
We are looking at a company that developed an entire game, major content updates for two others and maintained a high level of support for yet another two simultaneously. Rockstar, on the other hand, would be faced with the task of supporting one game while developing another. We could bring numerous other examples, like EA and Ubisoft.
But wait – Rockstar is just a developer, while those examples are publishers. Well, this is why we elaborated on Blizz, which is both dev and publisher. Rockstar’s publisher is Take-Two, who also manage 2K. 2K is actually churning out quite a few games, so would that clog things up? Nope. Take-Two’s architecture is different from, say Ubi or EA.
Ubi and EA have several studios, however all are grouped under the Ubi/EA administration and branding, therefore load and resources are distributed among as many of them as is needed per project. In the case of Take-Two, Rockstar and 2K are not affiliated in any way beyond sharing a parent company. Rockstar resources cannot be applied to 2K projects, and vice-versa.
This also means that Take-Two manages its resources differently. Obviously there is a measure of cross-investment, meaning that Rockstar’s success could mean higher budgets for 2K, however more of the in-house gain stays in-house. Now, anyone with some limited knowledge of game development will know that the DLC updates for GTA Online would not even remotely tax Rockstar’s resources and manpower to the maximum.
True, Further Adventures in Finance and Felony and Cunning Stunts were some pretty major updates, and Bikers is shaping up in a similar fashion, but that still accounts for but a fraction of the capacity of a company like Rockstar. This means that they more than have the capacity to develop an entirely new game in the meantime.
Based on the incredible success of GTA 5, which made a profit in less than a day in spite of eating up a budget of $265 million, 6 would also make the company boatloads of money. Microtransactions alone almost account for twice as much revenue as the cost of 5, meaning the company absolutely has the capacity to develop 6.
Keep in mind that the budget of GTA 5 accounted for release on 5 separate systems. Taking into account the natural incrementation of AAA game budgets per year, the reduced cost of only developing for 3 systems (no way 6 is getting released for PS3 and Xbox 360 – they don’t even get DLC) would mean that the same budget of $265 million today would allow Rockstar to make GTA 6 bigger and better than 5 in every way without going over.
Rockstar has the capacity, the money and the manpower. Demand for the game is obvious (just look at our survey results), and they would not need to suspend the content support of GTA Online in the meantime either, providing a constant stream of revenue. They have no reason, either budgetary or in terms of human resources, to shelve GTA 6 just to continue support for Online.
So tell me again: one of the most successful AAA video game companies cancelled an obvious-hit title for which they have the money just to make more DLC for a current game – DLC which they would make anyway? Yeah, I’m not buying it. This is just a case of websites putting the keyphrases “GTA 6” and “cancelled” next to one another for the clicks and ad-revenue.
And I mean, if Rockstar had all of their people working on DLC for GTA Online, we would have gotten a new city already. They would woo back an insane amount of players who drifted away by adding Liberty City or Las Venturas or something. Seriously, all those profits and employees? They have to be working on something else if this has not happened yet!
None of you believed these illogical rumors about GTA 6 being cancelled, did you?
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